Whatever your role at your company, it’s probably safe to assume that your duties and responsibilities sufficiently fill 40 hours a week. At the very least, I’m sure you’ve done a terrific job convincing your boss that that’s the case (I promise I won’t snitch on you… no-good, lousy bum).
As such, a new website project can be terrifying, especially when it comes to content development. You’re thinking:
“I’ve got 8 hours of work on my plate every day, and now I’m supposed to write 100+ pages of web copy on top of that? As soon as I finish this Facebook quiz to determine which Buffy the Vampire Slayer character I am, we’re gonna have a serious conversation about this.”
I won’t sugar coat things: copywriting is going to be a lot of work. And it’s not what you do every day, so it’s going to be difficult work. But fear not: I’m going to help you take advantage of existing assets, so you can get back to crushing candy and flinging birds at pigs.
Why Build What You Can Steal?
Don’t think of the task at hand as 100 blank pages waiting for you to start writing. Those are just 100 buckets you’re going to fill with content that has already been written.
Even before you’ve developed a new site map/architecture for your new site, chances are you know the general topic areas you’ll need to write about: your products, your services, some company background, your team members… You might even get more ambitious, acknowledging a need for case studies, informative white papers, etc.
Chances are, a lot of this “stuff” exists already, so:
- For each of these topic areas, start taking inventory of what content exists:
- On the current site
- In digital assets (PDFs, Word docs, PowerPoint files, etc.)
- In print materials (brochures, flyers)
- Anywhere else (email conversations? meeting notes?)
- Start making notes on what content is fine as-is (at least from a factual standpoint — structure and tone may get tweaked), what will need editing, what’s outdated or no longer relevant, and what needs to be created from scratch.
- Determine who your “subject matter experts” might be – these are the folks who will be writing content, or at least providing insight and input to copywriting efforts.
- You could even go so far as to start mapping (at least at a general level) some of your downloadable assets to specific topic areas that will likely have a representative page in the new site. This is the first crude step toward developing a taxonomy or tagging system.
You’ll probably find that populating your new site is much more of an editing/compiling job, rather than an original creative writing assignment.
In addition to easing your writing burden, once you actually get into fleshing out the full site map/architecture, that inventory will help you make decisions on what specific pages/subpages will be required in each top-level section. The inventory exercise will put you in a much better place to have productive architecture conversations with your web team.